Two of the most common modifications that off-road owners make to their Jeeps or trucks are adding bigger and taller tires along with suspension lifts.
While these mods are considered safe when done in moderation, safety may be compromised if you go add tires too big or lift too much.
If you do, pay attention to the potential safety issues that could arise with oversized tires and lift kits that push it to the limit.
It’s All About Balance
Every vehicle is designed to be well-balanced in terms of weight distribution and center of gravity.
Good balance is essential to prevent rollovers while turning corners and performing other maneuvers that shift the weight of the vehicle.
When off-roading in your truck, these things are done quite often.
Jeeps and trucks built for off-road driving have a low enough center of gravity so they can usually handle moderate trails and obstacles without too many problems.
Difficulties arise when you start changing the height of a vehicle and shifting the center of gravity.
The taller you make your truck above stock height, the more susceptible it will be to the gravitational force of its weight shifting as you negotiate different obstacles.
Lift Kits Raise Rollover Risk
Suspension lifts serve a number of purposes, including adding more ground clearance, which is great for climbing over things but can drastically raise your truck’s center of gravity.
With its weight centered higher, it may handle differently and lean a little more when you’re driving along inclines, hill climbing, or rock climbing.
If you’re not prepared for this, you could roll your truck.
Taller Tires Contribute to Increased Rollover Risk
Height increases that affect the center of gravity are not the only factor that can raise the risk of rolling your truck on the trail.
As commonplace as they are, oversized tires also increase this risk because they reduce overall braking power.
It’s easier to lose control of your truck with stock brakes that are not as sensitive as they need to be to stop bigger tires.
Gear ratios are also affected by bigger tires, changing the performance and responsiveness you get from your Jeep or truck.
When you combine bigger tires with a suspension lift, rollover risk increases even more.
Safety studies on the use of these upgrades suggest that reduced braking ability caused by tire size causes more incidents of unintentional weight shifting.
With a higher center of gravity, these shifts are more likely to unbalance the truck to the point of rolling.
Staying Safe with A Modified Truck
Obviously, there are plenty of people who off-road with oversized tires and lifted suspensions.
To do so safely and reduce the possibility of rolling over, you need to accommodate the higher center of gravity and regain lost braking power.
When you add oversized tires, it’s important to also increase the size of your brakes.
If your gear ratio has been affected, you need to remedy this as well.
Open fenders will eliminate interference, which could also unexpectedly unbalance you.
Where the lift kit is concerned, be sure to buy a high-quality kit and install it according to the manufacturer’s directions, including any necessary part upgrades like adding longer shocks.
Other than this, you just have to remember that every time you do anything that could unbalance your truck, you now have a higher center of gravity.
Rolling over is easier, so you must be more careful doing things that shift its weight.
Off-Roader Mods - Be Safe!
Off-roading by its very nature can be a dangerous activity.
Although the modifications made to vehicles increase their performance, it can also make them more unsafe.
When modifying, don’t forget the additional upgrades you may need to make and most importantly, drive with caution!